If you are a teenager or younger and thinking of giving up eating animals and animal products, it may be easier for you than it is for adults. Younger people seem to be able to adapt much easier and faster than older people to a change in diet. As long as you eat a good variety of healthy food every day, you should be very strong and healthy.
Making the right decision for you
As with older people, gradual reduction and elimination of animal food is easier than becoming vegan overnight because it gives the body time to adjust to the changes. For many people, making the transition over a couple of weeks or months is a good way to go as it allows the body to get used to the change without too much of a shock to the system. Try eliminating all animal products for one day a week, then build up to two days a week, three days, then four and keep going as you get used to it. Another way of making the transition would be to cut out dairy first, give your body time to adjust and then cut out meat - or the other way around. Many people might find giving up dairy first easier and there is just as much cruelty involved in dairy as there is in meat. What about dairy?
However, everyone is different and if you really feel it's right for you to eliminate meat and animal products quickly, make sure you have done smome research, know what foods you need to eat and where to buy them.. Look at the first step page and the health, fitness and veg food pages on this site and other VEGetariAN web sites. Your parents may not have a clue as to what kind of food to give you or how to prepare food that is tasty as well as nutritious so it may be up to you to educate yourself about how to be a healthy VEGetariAN. The last thing you want is to get sick and for those sceptical friends or family member to say, "See we told you it's not healthy to be vegetarian/vegan."
Darren Cordeux talks about why he went vegan
See more videos from Animals Australia Unleashed
You want to be very healthy, fit and strong VEGetariAN so make sure you are getting plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains every day and that you are regularly eating cereals, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seeds and nuts. That way you'll become a great role model for future VEGetariANS. The vege meats are a good way to make the transition easier for some people, especially if you like the taste of meat and animal products but hate the cruelty. You can buy vege hot dogs, bacon, sausages and other vege meats, soy milk, non dairy yoghurt and ice cream at most supermarkets these days.
Be aware that if you were eating a bad diet before becoming VEGetariAN and then you just eliminated all animal food, you may become deficient in nutrients that your body needs. Meat eaters can generally get away with eating a bad diet for some years but it will catch up with them eventually in the form of obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes etc. Vegans eating a really bad diet of junk food and processed food can develop health problems too - very different ones but no less dangerous, so eat healthy food every day and keep the junk food to a minimum.
Giving up eating animal products shouldn't have any negative impact on your social life. You can still go everywhere your friends go to eat, as there are always VEGetariAN options at just about every restaurant, cafe and food shop these days. By going veg you will be showing that you are a strong individual, can think for yourself and are confident enough in yourself to step out from the mainstream. That's pretty impressive. And don't take any nonsense from anyone. If anyone tries to tease or challenge you, let them know you are in good company. Remember some of the names of veg musicians, actors and sports stars (look at the links to them below) so you can let your friends know just how many great VEGetariANS there are.
Parents / Family
Hopefully your parents/family will be supportive of your decision and helpful but the reality is that some families may not approve of you becoming VEGetariAN for various reasons. If they try to talk you out of it or oppose you, try the ideas below:
Some ideas to try with your family
If their objection is related to health, photocopy some information about health and VEGetariANISM from the internet such as Nutrition MD
to set their mind at ease. This will also give your parents a few ideas about the types of foods that they will need to buy for you. Present a list of famous VEGetariANS, especially athletes. Drop a few names they will know like Peter Brock, Greg Chappell, Martina Navratilova, Carl Lewis, Robert De Costella and Mike Tyson and even x U.S. President, Bill Clinton gave up meat and dairy not that long ago, to heal his heart disease. Show the parent some photos of vegetarian body builders or athletes. For a short summary of health, show your parents the health
page on this site and have a look at some of these sites
Do your family say they are concerned about Global Warming and the .................destruction of the environment and waste of water?
If your family member is concerned about the environment, water wastage or global warming, present them with some of the information about the devastating effects of animal farming on the environment and educate them to the facts of factory farming and its contribution to environmental devastation. Have a look at the meat eating and the environment
page on this site or look on the internet at meat eating and global warming.
Do your family say they love animals?
- If your family insist that they are animal lovers, but still like to eat meat, and say, "These animals are meant for us to eat and are killed humanely", present them with some information about how animals really live and die when they are raised for meat. You will find information here. Pictures and videos are the best way to jolt a person out of denial, but be warned, there are some horrendous images. If you've already made the definite decision to stop eating animals and animal products, you may not want to watch these videos so just go to the site, get it ready to play, place your parents in front of the computer and then leave the room for your mum/dad to watch. If they are truly animal lovers, they will support your decision to stop eating animals and may want to go veg themselves once they've seen some of these images: There are some informative videos on the animal video page and Animal TV
What to eat
If your parent's main concern is about what to give you to eat, show them the Veg Food Basics
page on this site and look for vegetarian recipes on the internet. There are thousands of great sites. Have a look at Vegetarian Cooking
, The Kind Cooka
and Easy Vegan Recipes.
Print out the ones that look delicious and give them to the parent who does the cooking. Why not buy your mum/dad some vegetarian recipe books for their birthday or Christmas? More great ideas about what to eat
Learn how to cook yourself or at least help out in the kitchen
Photos of Alicia SIlverstone courtesy of Public Domain. Photos of Pablo the Sheep and Annabel the cow courtesy of Brightside Farm Sanctuary
Clip art of vegetables courtesy of freeclipartnow.com
Offer to prepare some food for the family. Start with some snacks and then move on to some simple recipes. Once you learn how to cook, it won't take long before you can make a tasty healthy meal for the whole family. Most parents will love the opportunity to have the night off from making the family meal.